A&E » Arts

Ice fantasies



Slide show features icebergs, penguins and peaks

What: Pure Antarctica; Skiing the Final Frontier

Where: Millennium Place Theatre

When: April 19, 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Ice can be satisfying.

"The place is magical and surreal. It really has an effect on people," says Dave German, expedition leader and president of Fathom Expeditions to the Antarctic.

Two showings of Pure Antarctica; Skiing the Final Frontier, get you up and close and personal with a region of the world boasting daylight 24/7.

A constantly changing weather system and 250 miles of coastal climate mean anything could happen. And it does.

"It’s so stunning, one day you might see a humpback whale breaching, or see an iceberg the size of Rhode Island collapse right in front of you," German says.

Sightings like these have led German on 40 expeditions to the Antarctic region. He began his guiding career as an assistant on an Antarctic ship expedition in the early ’90s, inspired by Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose exploits were aired on A&E April 7.

Some of German’s adventures have been captured in an IMAX feature film titled Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure, currently showing in Victoria and in due at the Vancouver IMAX theatre by October.

German’s tour outfit, which he opened in 2000, takes groups of up to 45 people out on mini-cruise ships, akin to a middle scale floating hotel that boasts the comforts of home. Guests dine on filet mignon and fresh foods.

"Some of our guests don’t want to go out and sleep on the ice, it’s too comfortable on the ship!" he laughs.

"It’s also a skiers’ paradise, with hundreds of peaks that have never been skied."

Day trips by Zodiac boat from the ship access hundreds of ski fields. Wildlife sightings are numerous, including penguins that are about knee-height.

German says the region is all mountains and fjords, with loads of options for backcountry climbing.

"Although all the guides have expedition experience from all over and we travel with a full time medic, we don’t take people to the really extreme areas. The nearest hospital is days away," adds German.

To get an idea of how remote the Antarctic is, in the case of an emergency, airlift out of the area starts at $50,000. Phone calls are about $17 per minute and e-mail is available at two cents per word. But that’s better than regular mail, which can take up to five months to reach its destination.

The next trip through Fathom Expeditions is to the Antarctica Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. The trip is open to adventurers at all stages, and will be accompanied by famed climber Conrad Anker.

Pure Antarctica; Skiing the Final Frontier is part of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and follows the final night of the Photography Showdown.

Kristoffer Erickson, a mountaineer, ski guide and photographer, will also show mountain images from his expeditions, which take place during the Antarctic summer season.

Erickson has climbed Patagonia, Greenland, and the Himalayas. He has accompanied Reinhold Messner on expeditions and was with Conrad Anker during a recreation of Shackleton’s route across the island of South Georgia.

Admission is $8 and tickets can be purchased at the door, or contact the Millennium Place box office. For more information log on to www.fathomexpeditions.com or call 1-800-621-0176.